Maggie: The government has tried to get teenagers to stop smoking before, but this time they are trying to get them where they think it might hurt the most – in the mirror. Starting today, commercials will begin airing that show young people the ugly side effects of tobacco. Demetrius Pipkin takes a look.
Demetrius: Seventeen-year-old Demarish Salazar started smoking last year. She knows it isn’t good for her.
Demarish Salazar: We talk about it and my mom tells me too. I’ll feel bad, and now I want to just be healthy and not be a smoker.
Demetrius: Each day, more that 3,800 young people between the ages of 12 and 17 pick up a cigarette for the first time. But recent studies show that getting the message out early can help lower the chances that they will start smoking by almost 20%.
Dr. Sue Curry: Provide interventions. And they can be conversations, telephone counseling, video, written materials to youth and adolescents in their practices.
Commercial: Pack of cigarettes? You need a little more, honey.
Demetrius: So, the Food and Drug Administration created a $115 million ad campaign, funded by tobacco companies, that specifically targets teens and warns of the real costs of smoking. The ads started airing today all across the country on TV, radio, print and online.
This is the second anti-smoking campaign the FDA has tried since 2012. The first one, you might remember, used graphic images on cigarette cartons to try to stop smokers from buying. But a judge ruled that is unconstitutional, saying it violated cigarette companies’ First Amendment rights of freedom of speech. So, this campaign focuses more on the side affects and things they believe young people will worry about more. Things like wrinkled skin and rotten teeth.
Commercial: When I say pause the movie, we pause the movie.
Demetrius: Another of the broadcast ads compares smoking to a bully who drags you outside to light up and also takes your money.
Commercial: Cigarettes are bullies. Don’t let tobacco control you.
Demetrius: A task force has also been created that has recommended pediatricians and other physicians start tackling the problem with their young patients. With about 1,000 people under 18 becoming regular smokers each day, Dr. Jessica Sessions says it is never too early to start telling young people that tobacco can lead to cancer and heart disease.
Dr. Jessica Sessions: We really try to hone in on the patient that’s not smoking yet, that might have a parent that smokes or a friend that smokes, and really trying to give them the message that smoking is dangerous.
Demetrius: Demarish feels a warning from doctors might help.
Demarish: I think a doctor can influence a teen but I think it’s within themselves, if they really want to smoke or not smoke.
Demetrius: The hope is knowing what can happen will change a person’s mind to stop lighting up for good.
Demetrius Pipkin, Channel One News.